I was the guest in this story in more ways than one. Nature had opened her arms and allowed me entrance to her domain, and my friend Dan had invited me to hunt bear with him. His only request had been that he got first dibs on any bear we saw since he was looking for a trophy. I had spent the previous season sitting in tree stands with Dan video taping several bears, and was very excited to be caring my bow for this hunt.
We had spent a great deal of time getting ready for the season. Dan had hunted bears in this area for many years and was familiar with the area and where to place our stands. We set up our stands well before the season opened. One or both of us had been making several weekly trips up to our chosen sights checking on our baits and restocking them. After several weeks there were definite signs that these baits had become active sites.
The season had finally arrived and it was time to start climbing into those stands that had been set with such care. Several evenings had produced several sightings of bears but most where young small bears, not what we were after.
A week later found Dan and I both sitting over the upper bait. We had already seen several small bears and the evening was waning towards dark. Off to our left came the now familiar sounds of a bear moving through this rough and steep mountain country. A jet black bear moved into sight and slowly started to side hill towards our bait. Dan signaled me that this was his bear. I immediately new that this was a large bear since Dan wanted him. I was content and very excited to watch and video the next few minutes. Once the bear moved to within thirty yards, Dan had changed his mind and signaled me to take the shot. I was caught off guard and had to do a quick shift in my state of mind. The bear moved around above our bait and came in from the upper right side. Not what we had hoped for. This made a very difficult shot with several trees hiding the bear. Once the bear reach the bait he clambered part way over a fallen tree, his front paws on one side of the downed tree and his back legs on the other. This in and of itself presented no problems with my shot, but a tree standing tall and proud hid the bears vitals from my view. I had come to full draw hoping the bear would inch out a little further and present me with a shot. I don't remember how long I held there at full draw but my adrenaline was a definite bonus, finally the bear inched out giving me a shot albeit a small target. I took aim and released the string.....The arrow left my bow like a missile to SMACK into the tree next to the bears vitals. The bear spun and bolted up the hill, stopping after a short distance to look down the mountain at what had scared it so. I couldn't believe it, I had plucked my string sending my arrow only one inch off, but that was all it took. There I was standing up in the stand dumfounded that I had missed that shot. One I could make time after time, at least until it really mattered.
I was about to sit down again when Dan signaled me that another bear was coming in from directly below us, and I should get ready for another shot. I stood there in the tree trying to figure out what Dan had just told me, things were happening too quickly for my disappointed mind to grasp, not to mention my adrenaline was quickly leaving my legs rather shaky. I knew if I stood much longer I would probably end up falling out of the tree right in front of the approaching bear.....Wouldn't that surprise a bear! I sat down trying to get a grip on my shaking body. After several minutes another dusty brown bear appeared from the brush near the bait. The first bear had moved away and was no longer in sight. Dan had picked up the camera and was now taping this latest arrival. I was glad he had not had it running for the deadly shooting of the tree. This bear came up to my arrow in the tree and sniffed it curiously. I figured that would be that, but the bear paid it scant attention and walked under it, the arrow sliding through its thick fur and down his back like a back scratchier. The bear was now on the bait and I had knocked another arrow. I drew my string back and the bear heard my arrow sliding down the arrow rest. At full draw I watched the bear as he looked down hill. I waited until he lowered his head again, I aimed letting out a little of my held breath and released the string. The bear spun at the sound my bow's twang, the arrow struck and the bear as it bolted from the bait. I thought for sure I had hit the bear too far back and it was not a good shot, Dan felt it was a good shot. We decided to wait a little while before we climbed down to start looking for my bear. As we waited another bear came up from below our stands. We watched and video taped this bear as he blissfully helped himself to an evening meal. Once this latest bear had left bringing the total number of bears we had seen that night to six, we climbed down from the stands.
I must confess that this was a very eerie feeling, the sun was setting and it was getting dark. We had seen six bears in less than three hours and we were looking for one that I thought was only wounded. This seemed like a stupid thing to be doing just then. We located part of my arrow where it had broken off as the bear dashed through some thick brush. We found no blood, and were following the bear by tracks alone. Dan was about four feet in front of me when I herd crashing in the brush directly in front of him. "Here we go-dinner", I thought to myself but we were the main course. As my heart started to pound I realized that what I was hearing was a rock that Dan had knocked loose and was rolling down the steep mountain side. Long minutes of searching turned up nothing of my bear and I was beginning to think we might not find him. It was getting to dark to see and so we had to call off our search. We would pick up again at first light!
Early the next morning found us spread out down the ridge looking for my bear, hoping we would find some sign. I had gone only a short distance when I pulled back some brush and found myself face to face with my bear. He was dead and only fifty yards from our bait. It turned out to be a good shot after all and I had recovered my trophy, and shortly thereafter I found my pulse again!